What former Bok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the past weekend's Super Rugby matches at Newlands, Loftus and Ellis Park.
Stormers vs Brumbies
'The Stormers were smart and their tactics against the Brumbies were excellent. They decided to turn the Brumbies’ big wingers, played on their inexperienced fullback and kept their forwards going backwards at the rucks and mauls instead of forward to offensive tackles. The Stormers also took their opportunities whenever the Brumbies made mistakes. What everyone anticipated was a dominant Brumbies performance at the breakdown if the Stormers kept on playing in front of their defence, like they did against the Sharks, but they changed their game plan around and created real problems for likes of David Pocock and Scott Fardy.
'In this game I wouldn’t have counted more than five lineouts that the Brumbies had in an attacking position. So the Stormers made sure that whenever the Brumbies won the ball it was in their half or between the 10m lines. In addition, when the Stormers’ smaller backs ran on to the ball off turnover possession they were very dangerous, but off first-phase ball, running against bigger defensive backs, they were ineffective. The loose trio of Siya Kolisi, Nizaam Carr and Schalk Burger were excellent against world-class opposition, as were the front five.
'If you go and push a player in the face, it should be a yellow card and the reaction of Joe Tomane [in the first half] deserved one. If you throw a punch, you deserve a red card so the Brumbies can’t have any complaints [about replacement hooker Josh Mann-Rea being sent off]. Their discipline let them down.
'The try Dillyn Leyds scored did look like a knock-on and in the old days it would’ve been a knock-on. But I do think it was a try, as you don't have to control the ball [while grounding it], just maintain contact with it. I don't think there was daylight between the ball and his hand. The Stormers didn’t get the rub of the green last week with that Siya Kolisi [penalty try] call, but they got it this week.'
Bulls vs Sharks
'The game was played with a slippery ball, but the Sharks will remember it for that last missed kick and I feel very sorry for Marcell Coetzee who worked so hard to win the penalty for them. Joe Pietersen would kick that 19 times out of 20, but he knew he had to kick it over for them to win and the pressure got to him. It’s just like a putt in golf. You ask yourself how can a professional golfer miss a three-foot putt. You’d sink 99 out of a 100 and suddenly when you need to do it to win the Masters, you can’t because the pressure is just too much.
'All the guys who didn’t have to take the kick were running around clapping and congratulating Coetzee and high-fiving each other, as if it was all over, but Coetzee only won them the possibility of winning the game. Before you start shouting “well done” to each other, wait until the kick goes over.
'This was a 16-16 draw, but in that second half there were three excellent try-scoring opportunities, two by the Sharks which were fluffed and one by the Bulls which was messed up. When talking about the skill levels of South African players, it’s not that we’re not creating opportunities to score tries, but the execution and timing of the final pass or the line of support running is incorrect. Chances like that wouldn’t be messed up by an Australian or New Zealand backline in my opinion.'
Lions vs Cheetahs
'The Lions made a lot of mistakes in the second half, but really set the tone in the first. What’s so great about these Lions is they run on to the ball, like Ruan Ackermann did in the lead-up to his try. And in turn, they don’t give any space to the opposition.
'It was a gutsy fightback by the Cheetahs, albeit with a very different style of play to the Lions; they rely on the driving maul to score their tries. And well done to them for not rolling over, it could have been a 40-pointer, instead they lost by fewer than 20 points.'
Photo: Luke Walker/Gallo Images